The Suspension, Debarment Process Could Be Improved, But Not by DOJ Taking the Lead
Government Contracts attorney Eric Crusius was quoted in a Federal News Network article about the suspension and debarment process. The number of contractors suspended or debarred has steadily decreased since hitting a 12-year high in 2014, and a recent letter from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ben Ray Luján suggested the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) should take a more aggressive approach. Lawyers have long since asserted that the process provides a way for agencies to protect themselves, adding that the government already has a number of tools at its disposal to punish contractors for poor performance or address other issues without resorting to suspension or debarment. For example, Mr. Crusius explained that agencies can terminate a contract or write a negative performance review, both of which can achieve the desired effect without harming a company's future or its employees.
"The agency that contracts with the contractor often has the best insight of the contractor’s conduct and present responsibility," he said. "Further, the contracting agency best understands the practical implications of a debarment, like is the company vital to their supply chain?"